Pub. Date:
Abrams, Harry N., Inc.
African Ark: People and Ancient Cultures of Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa

African Ark: People and Ancient Cultures of Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa

by Carol Beckwith, Angela Fisher


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The region of Ethiopia and its surrounding countries - the Horn of Africa - is known today as a land of famine and war, but it is also the last secret kingdom of the world, a land of mystery and fierce beauty. Cut off by soaring mountain ranges, burning lava deserts, unexplored wildernesses, and an isolated Indian Ocean coastline, the Horn of Africa is a great Ark that has, for centuries, sheltered an astonishing variety of societies. From the sophisticated cultures of the Christian highlands and the Islamic coast to the proud nomads of the Ogaden desert and the primitive tribes of the last wildernesses of the continient, the region is a true microcosm of Africa and a time capsule in which we can see many of the stages of the development of modern culture.

Inspired by deep knowledge and love of the region, this magnificent book from two of the world's outstanding photographers, Carol Beckwith and Angela Fisher, is the record of a five-year journey of discovery.

The journey begins in the highlands of Ethiopa with thousand-year-old Christian ceremonies that take place each year in the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela. To the north lies the city of Axum, held by many to be the birthplace of the Queen of Sheba and the last resting place of the Ark of the Covenant.

Around the fortress city of Gondar, with its treasure houses of Christian art, live the Falasha - Ethiopian Jews, whose origins remain unknown. Down in the low-lying deserts of the Rift Valley, where temperatures often climb to 120 degrees in the shade, are the warlike Afar, whose young men play the fastest and most dangerous ball game in the world.

Along the Islamic coast, running from the Red Sea port of Massawa to Mogadishu and the Indian Ocean island of Lamu, the pace of life relaxes, providing a cool breathing space the journey takes us back into the deserts of Somalia. Here, nomads still follow the old patriarchal laws - an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, and one hundred camels for the life of a man.

Further inland, in the foothills of the Bale mountains, are the shrines of Sheikh Hussein, the destination of pilgrims who twice yearly journey across the vast distances to take part in ecstatic Islamic spirit cults.

In the savannahs, valleys, and mountains beyond, and along the banks of the Omo River in the far southwest of Ethiopia live a variety of peoples who delight in the creation of elaborate hairstyles, highly expressive body paintings, and intricate scarification. Many of their initiation rites and ceremonies have been photographed for the first time and are published here.

Matching the eloquence of the photographs is a highly informative and readable text by Graham Hancock, a longtime observer of life in the region. Maps and line drawings of artifacts and architecture make African Ark a true celebration of the lives of those who still inhabit the cradle of mankind.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780810919020
Publisher: Abrams, Harry N., Inc.
Publication date: 09/28/1990
Pages: 310
Product dimensions: 10.50(w) x 14.36(h) x 1.09(d)

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